Wednesday, August 31, 2011


This is a photo our babysitter Claire took as Shef and I were leaving for our first day of school together.  

As we all know, this is generally what happens when we try to take a nice family photo.

Anyway, we both had awesome days.  I have the nicest students, and I feel like I'm working in a dream, pretty much.

Shef was psyched because now that he's a second grader, he has REAL HOMEWORK. And an assignment notebook. Totes official. I wonder how long we can make this excitement last?

Monday, August 29, 2011


For goodness knows what reason, I taught the boys that "going commando" means wearing pants without underwear. Any normal parent would realize she shouldn't pass on this bit of vernacular. But, whatever. I guess I wasn't thinking.

So anyway, the other morning, I helped Mac remove his nighttime diaper in order to accomplish his morning evacuations. Afterward, he didn't want to take the time to change.

"Don't worry, Mom," he said. "I'll just go volcano."

It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant commando.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


You know you're teaching middle school when you open your mailbox in the teachers' workroom and find a taxidermied ferrety thing mounted on a birch log. Staring out at you with beady eyes and creepy teeth.

I did what any normal middle school teacher would do: I put it in a colleague's mailbox and shut the door.

Friday, August 26, 2011


The food at my new school is SO FLIPPING GOOD. Yesterday's lunch was grilled portobello mushrooms over wild rice with marinara sauce. Also, strawberry and spinach salad. In case you didn't want that, you could have had tilapia in a light cream sauce. Or a sandwich with meat or sunbutter.

Before all of that, when you get to school you can have cereal, Nurtrigrain or Special K snack bars, and some fresh fruit. Also, you can have coffee.

The best part is that it's free. FREE! INCLUDED IN MY CONTRACT! I keep talking about this. Everyday I marvel at my good fortune.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Yesterday as part of a workshop on equity and community engagement, I got to hear a family in our school talk about their religion and how it impacts their life. They are Sikhs.

As they were talking, I started thinking to myself that a Sikh sounds like a great thing to be. Sikhs believe in peace, faith, and justice. They believe that each person creates and cultivates their own personal connection to God. Sikhs do not have a lot of rules around social behavior. For instance, if you're a Sikh, you're allowed to have an abortion if you want to or have a relationship with any partner you choose. Also, Sikhs are open to conversion.

The thing that makes Sikhs most visible is that they show their devotion and respect for creation by not cutting their hair. The men also wear turbans. Jas, the dad in the family who visited, told us that 99% of men you see in the U.S. wearing turbans are Sikhs. I had no idea, but now I know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yesterday at work, the new school-wide arts department chair told me that I was so funny and had such good energy that she could really imagine me as an emcee of the biggest event of the school year with 2000 people in attendance. So, would I do it?

I'll be honest: I pretty much stopped listening after she mentioned how I'd had the group "in stitches" during my introduction of myself the day before. Oh, the flattery! The legitimacy! The potential of keeping up with Pronto!

And then, before I knew what I was doing, I agreed. To be the emcee of the BIGGEST SCHOOL TRADITION that I've never even participated in before.

As @DailyRos would say, Hella WHAT?!

So, today, I had to send an email backing out of this ridiculous commitment. Thank God the chair was nice about it. She just laughed when she saw me. Let's be honest, I was probably hilarious as I was backing out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Sometimes I use Google to solve life's big problems. Tonight I used Google to find out why I have been clenching my jaw at night and how I might stop. Sadly, I haven't found definitive answers to these questions. But, I made an effort.

I also tried to find out why this leech bite I got a few summers ago still itches sometimes. Why does it do that? That's so weird. And annoying.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm writing this from my new classroom. My mom generously offered to take the kids overnight, which means I can attend the New Faculty Dinner by myself. This event takes place in about an hour and is the culminating experience for the New People. We've already had the New Faculty Introductory Meeting, the New Faculty Benefits Overview, the New Faculty/Mentor Lunch, the New Faculty Technology Training, and the New Faculty Division Time.

I'm starting to feel a little spinny in the head here, actually. I have a lot to learn. The good news is that the father of one of my new co-workers knows a friend of mine. That friend told me that the father told him that the co-worker told HIM that he thinks I'm PRIMO.

And primo starts with P. Phew.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Today was the last day. Tomorrow, I'm back to work. Of course, I've been there a lot; but tomorrow is the first time I'm required.

Yes, summer is OVER.

Summer is over, and I haven't even thought about a motto for the year! Last year, I thought a lot about it. Remember I settled with Get it Done? I actually did Get it Done, both the school year and the unbelievably long and intense interview process I endured to get this new gig.

I'm excited, you guys! I'm super excited. I'm so excited, I don't even think I need a motto.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This classic dichotomy pretty much sums up life with Surly Seven and Whiny Three.

Still. Gotta love those guys!!


I read several teaching and education-related blogs and Twitter feeds. One of my new favorites is Mind/Shift. The blog curates a lot of interesting ed-tech news.

One thing I'm especially interested in is figuring out ways to harness mobile devices. Mind/Shift had an article on this recently. A highlight of the article is the little blurb on "Snack Learning." If you think about it, a 50-minute class period is rather snack-like.

Today on my mobile device (in this case, my laptop, which isn't quite as mobile as my phone or my iPad), I solved a work problem. My new boss (she seems so fabulous, fyi) asked for a head shot-type photo of me. I took one quick with my webcam and emailed it to her. "This is as good as it gets," I told her.

Never mind the zit on my chin. You can't hardly notice it, right?!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Way back when I first purchased a family membership at the zoo, my mom gave me a piece of advice. At the zoo, you write down how many dependent children you have living with you at your address. She told me to just round up. That way, when one of your kids brings a friend, that extra kid is free. She said she always did that kind of thing when my brother and I were young.

I didn't think much about the LIE, and just signed up for three kids like my mom told me to. Never mind that we have never actually brought a friend for either of our boys. But, whatever, I COULD HAVE.

Well, on this past weekend's visit, we didn't bring friends, but we had to renew our membership. I was, of course, reminded of my enduring LIE. Then, I was forced to ramp it up. On the new membership application, you have to list the names and birth dates of your children. My first inclination was just to let it drop. Like, just say, "Oh you know what? We just have two kids now." But then what if I had to do more explaining and it only compounded the LIES?

So, I just decided that the easiest thing would be to invent a middle child. Plenty of people with 7 year-olds and 3 year-olds also have 5 year-olds, and now, ladies and gentlemen, we do too! As far as the zoo is concerned Shef exists, Mac exists, and so does Thomas, our middle child born on May 15th, 2006.

Welcome, Thomas! I think I do love you so much.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


We went to to zoo today and had a great time. My idea for the blog was to take lots of photos of animals that start with K and then put them here on the blog.

It turns out the zoo only has two animals that start with K: the Komodo Dragon and Matchie's Tree Kangaroo. So here they are. You can't see them very well because I didn't do a very good job of taking the pictures. Also, I didn't realize ShapeCollage would make them so small. Oh well. Live and learn.

Shef also wanted to pose for a pic next to the buffalo statue, so I added that one, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011


A really funny movie that Dan and I like is I Love You, Man. In it, this nice-but-blundering guy Peter tries to make a best friend in time for his wedding.

Basically, he tries way too hard and says all kinds of painfully awkward things while trying to seem cool. It goes without saying that I have behaved like Peter many times because of my previously mentioned INCLUSION NEEDS. So, naturally I find him endearing and totally relate to his plight.

Anyway, our whole family has gotten into the habit of calling each other "Jobin," which is the inexplicable nickname Peter gives to his new pal, Sydney, in the movie.

We also say all kinds of other things from this film. For instance, when I'm making plans with Dan on the phone, I'll end by telling him, "I'll see you then, or I'll see you at another time." And then he'll answer, "Laters on the men-jay."

Even Dan's parents have gotten into the trend. Their favorite is "When you get a mo." As in, when you get a mo-MENT.

Basically, if you haven't seen this movie and you like raunchy stupid comedies featuring cute little awkward guys, you should probably see it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This is a phrase my mother in-law taught me. She's always remarking on her own "high inclusion needs." It turns out that I also have extremely high inclusion needs. We do share a birthday, my mother in-law and I, so maybe it's to be expected that we share certain traits.

What it means to have high inclusion needs is that you always need a buddy.

Going out to lunch? I want to come. Walking to the office? Hey! Me too! Have to pee? Well, I'm totally up for that.

So yesterday when I had a fun chat about teaching ideas and other stuff with one of my new colleagues, I was super excited. I called Dan right afterward. "I made a friend!!" I squealed. He tried to sound excited for me, but he doesn't really understand. He's like totally fine to walk to the bathroom by himself.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011



I've been so busy being excited about my new job that I almost forgot to be overwhelmed. But, don't even worry because I just got three back-to-school mailings and now I'm well on my way to feeling suitably HARRIED.

There are a lot of new handbook items to learn: log ins, passwords, acronyms, policies, schedule...

I've posted the (ingenious, I think) schedule above. Here are some things I love about it: 1) the kids get to take seven classes, but never have more than six per day; 2) they have some breaks in the day, like BREAK, RECESS, and TUTORIAL; and 3) We have ADVISORY.

Also, and this is a revelation, teachers have TWO prep periods. Mine are A and C! I was so confused about the two-prep concept that I babbled to my new boss incomprehensibly about my HAPPINESS. Oh well.

Monday, August 8, 2011


When I left Camp Foley tonight, the campers and staff were busy with their Harry Potter Banquet Day. Starting this morning, they all did this big House Cup Competition and then they ran around in house colors finding horcruxes and battling Bellatrix LeStrange.

Dumbledore and McGonagall wandered around making sure everything was going okay and counting out HP silly bandz for souvenirs.

At dinner, everyone wore dress robes and costumes and listened to the HP theme song. Tonight, they were going to campfire where perhaps the horcruxes would be destroyed and Voldemort vanquished.

During the day, I helped a little bit with the Harry Potter festivities. Gotta love a workplace where people come to you for answers to questions like, "Have you seen my four ring pops?" and "Will you sprinkle these jelly beans on all these tables?"

Also, "Is the face paint in here?" and "Have you checked the batteries in all of these dinosaurs?"

Thanks, Camp Foley. It was a blast, as usual. That's my staff photo up there from 1998, btw. I found the yearbook in my basement.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Fabulous is an adjective I use a lot. For instance, if someone says something like, "I bet it will be fun," I might say, "It'll be fabulous!"

If I like your shoes, I'll say they're fabulous.

If your haircut is nice, I'll say it's fabulous.

Fabulous photographs, fabulous house, fabulous time, fabulous food.

Sometimes I shorten it to "fab." You know. Whatever I feel like.

A few years ago, when I was saying fabulous about something, my brother in-law told me that fabulous is popular among GLBTQ people. Just now in honor of "F" day, I checked on Urban Dictionary, and sure enough! According to the website, "fabulous" is a the "ultimate compliment" in the gay community, and perhaps even a mating call.

Love it! Gay Pride! Fabulous!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


On the way up here - I'm north of Brainerd, just over three hours from Minneapolis - I used the scan feature to find a good radio station. I didn't really find a GREAT station, but I did hear Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" three times within the span of 20 minutes. And I stopped scanning to listen to it EACH TIME!

Which brings me to the next part of my story. Eventually I did stop because a station was playing "Don't Stop Believin'," which was revitalized first by Bill Clinton's campaign and then later by Glee. Next that station played "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel, which I LOVE.

Then they played three more songs I knew all the words to, including "Walkin' on Sunshine." So, I'm sure you guessed it by now, but that, my friends, was a LITE ROCK station. Exactly the format I used to ridicule my mother for choosing.

This is what getting old feels like? Oh, well. Here's Air Supply:

They make every tackle at the sound of the whistle and they make all the stadiums rock.

Friday, August 5, 2011


In a minute, I'm hopping in the car and driving up to Camp Foley, my old stomping ground.

My friends Alli and Marie let me do a bit of work up there in exchange for Shef's camp tuition. Isn't that so nice? I LOVE them! My job is to read and edit a bunch of stuff, which is obviously right up my alley. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the drafts first thing tomorrow.

In addition to doing that editing work, I get to be part of the awesome camp community for a few days - singing, dancing, being silly, and not cooking or cleaning. I think we can all agree this situation is win-win.

*photo c/o Camp's website

Thursday, August 4, 2011


When Shef was gone at camp, I painted his room and got him new, big-kid bedding. Instead of doing all the walls in that cheery green, I decided it would be cool to cover one big one in chalkboard paint.

It turned out really well, I think! I love the built-in murals! This one is a combo of "The Guy," care of Dan, some Harry Potter wands, brooms, and house decor that Shef did with Claire (our amazing babysitter), and whatever Shef's pal Charles did while he was over today.

Cool, right?!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I spent the morning in my new classroom setting up the space. I did a bunch of stuff, but I was most excited about papering and bordering my bulletin boards. The reason I was so pumped is that I purchased three new exciting borders. I decided to use the leopard print border on the board closest to my desk. YES!

In between the bulletin boards, I fiddled around with my desks. My problem is that I feel like the room has more of a table vibe, and I'm not sure how to arrange the desks. I tried a semicircle and I tried rows, but neither of those arrangements seemed right. I'll probably try a few more things.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Okay. ADAPT.

Awhile ago when the last blogging challenge ended at the end of June, Dan spent some time lamenting the lack of challenge.

"It's your turn to pose a challenge!" I told him.

Despite this advice, he chose not to pose a challenge. I think what he said was, "Hmmmm."

So then after a month of slow blogging on this site, I decided to pose my own challenge to myself on July 27th. My challenge was to blog every day until August 18th. I publicly declared this resolution so that I'd hold myself accountable.

But now, a month after my initial suggestion that Dan pose a challenge and AFTER I've already challenged myself, Dan has finally posed a challenge. I'm supposed to post something for every letter (a remix of the AKR challenge from July 2010 posed by Lee) and post an image (a nod to the April 2011 image challenge also posed by Lee).

So, fine. I'm in the challenge. I'm going to do it. And while I'm at it, why not also revisit the December 2009 and December 2010 challenges that both had new/multimedia aspects?

Actually, I already wanted to ask about this thing I've read about a few times online lately called Pinterest. Have you heard of it? It's like a social-bookmarking, collage-making, inspiration-boarding thing. Should we get some Pinterests? I'll admit, I requested an invite. Here's a screenshot (aka IMAGE):

Monday, August 1, 2011

It was J.P. After All!

This morning, I dropped Shef off at his art camp and walked down the hallway to my new classroom to start getting set up for the school year.

One of the best parts of my new job is that Shef and I now go to the same school. I just get to drop him off, and then go to work, and then pick him up... all with no driving!

So, this morning I was doing all the glamorous things that teachers do in August, like wiping down shelves and stacking books and deciding on bulletin board design; and then my door opened. It was Shef!

"Mom!" he said. "It's break time, so do you have those pretzels?" he asked.

And, yes, I had the pretzels! And then he just ran out the door back to his art class! It's hard to convey in blog format how happy this little interaction made me. It's so nice and easy to be in the same school space.

Probably we won't always be so thrilled to be in close proximity, but today it was pretty great. Who wouldn't want to be hanging with this guy?